Apple’s product recalls and free repair programmes
Having trouble with your iphone or Mac? Maybe you can get a free repair. David Price looks at Apple’s replacement programme
Wondering whether your broken Apple product qualifies for a free repair, or is part of a replacement programme? You’ve come to the right place.
If your iphone, ipad, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV or other Apple product has gone wrong and you don’t think it’s your fault, you may be able to get the tech giant (or a company authorized by Apple) to repair it for free, provide a replacement product, or refund your money. You can attempt this on an
individual, case-by-case basis, but occasionally Apple institutes a general recall or free repair programme for a particular product or model that it acknowledges has a congenital problem.
Over the following pages we cover the firm’s current replacement programmes: check to see if your faulty device is included. You might be in line for a free replacement.
Will Apple repair products for free?
Sometimes, but don’t depend on it. Apple product recalls are an unusual occurrence. When it is prepared to admit that a problem is inherent to a product line or certain models within that line, it will agree to repair or replace these devices, and either announce this publicly (expecting you to get in touch yourself and seek redress) or in smaller cases contacting affected users proactively.
It did this with the iphone 5, whose power button was prone to failure – your humble reporter went through this process and was able to get a new iphone 5 at no cost, even though that handset went wrong in a completely different way several months down the line.
Apple has also instituted a programme for failing Macbook Pro models that faced an issue known as ‘staingate’, following a saga that caused distress and frustration for many of our readers. But for most problems you’ll need to approach Apple as an individual, and demonstrate that the issue was fundamental to the product rather than something that has developed over months and years of
ownership. In those cases you will generally need to fall back on your warranty and insurance rights.
iphone repairs and recalls iphone 6s battery shutdown issue
In November 2016, Apple acknowledged that iphone 6s handsets made in September and October 2015 were faulty and prone to spontaneous and unexpected shutdowns; it said the issue was battery-related. The firm is therefore willing to offer a free replacement for the battery unit in affected models.
“Apple has determined that a very small number of iphone 6s devices may unexpectedly shut down,” the firm says in a statement. “This is not a safety issue and only affects devices within a limited serial number range that were manufactured between September and October 2015.”
The announcement followed an investigation into reported shutdowns by the China Consumers Association. In early December 2016, Apple’s Chinese support page acknowledged that:
“A small number of customers outside of the affected range have also reported an unexpected shutdown”. It continues to offer exchanges for the affected models.
You should note, however, that this is different to Apple’s replacement of batteries for £25 following the revelation in January 2018 that the company had been slowing down some iphone models that might have suffered from unexpected shutdowns.
Find out if your iphone qualifies
The recall applies to iphone 6s models manufactured in September and October 2015, as explained above, but is restricted to handsets within a specified serial number range.
You can easily find out if your iphone is eligible for the recall by visiting Apple’s dedicated web page for the programme (fave.co/2qwc3mp), and using the serial number checking tool. Open Settings > General > About on your iphone; the serial number is listed as the eleventh entry on this page. Type this into the field on Apple’s web page and hit
Submit to find out if your iphone qualifies. If the fourth and fifth digits in the serial number are any of the following combinations, you should qualify.
• Q3, Q4, Q5, Q6, Q7, Q8, Q9 • QC, QD, QF, QG, QH, QJ
If you’re not sure, we suggest you visit an Apple Retail Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider and have your device’s serial number checked. Your handset also needs to work to qualify for the replacement programme.
According to a Reddit user named ‘broostenq’, Apple’s battery replacement programme isn’t proceeding as quickly as hoped, possibly as a result of subscribers to the programme exceeding expectations.
“I visited a flagship Apple Store this afternoon and was told by the Genius I would have to wait around two weeks for a replacement battery since most stores don’t have any in stock, even though I signed up for an appointment the day the program was announced,” broostenq writes.
“Was disappointing to be sent away with a defective battery when the problem affects me frequently and that Apple didn’t anticipate the demand for batteries to fix ‘a very small number’ of phones (in their words.)”
iphone 6 Plus Multi-touch Issue (aka Touch Disease)
Arguably one of Apple’s most scandalous product faults of recent years, what the firm calls the ‘iphone 6 Plus Multi-touch Repair Programme’, first hit the headlines in August 2016. Ifixit initially identified it and called it Touch Disease, although it had been well known within the third-party Apple repair community for some time.
You’ll know whether you’re affected because the iphone 6 Plus’s display will periodically be affected by a small flickering grey bar at the top of the screen. It’s about the height of the IOS menu bar and looks a bit like old-school TV static, or may look like a series of short bars (that is, crenellated). Additionally – or alternatively – the screen may become completely unresponsive to touch.
Apple eventually took note and issued a recall in November 2016, but gallingly for those affected the repair isn’t free. The firm acknowledged the
problem, but requests £146.44 to get rid of it. However, the iphone must not be damaged and must be in working order. The recall programme is set to end in September 2019, five years after the iphone 6 Plus first went on sale.
The tech giant claims users cause the issue by dropping the phone on a hard surface and then make the issue worse by “incurring further stress on the device” – although it doesn’t go into details as to how.
What to do if you’re affected
If you are affected by this issue, then you can either pay for Apple or one of its Authorized service centres to make the repair, or visit an independent Apple repair shop to have the work done. The latter will be significantly cheaper, but there’s
no guarantee of quality and you will probably invalidate any warranty you might have (such as one offered by a retailer if you bought the phone used). Nonetheless, we found a handful of vendors on ebay offering postal repairs, starting from £70 – just search for ‘touch disease’.
Notably, if you had already paid Apple to make the repair prior to their announcing the recall programme in November 2016, then Apple will pay you an amount “equal the difference between the price you paid for the original service to your iphone 6 Plus and the £146.44 service price”. In simple terms, if you paid the standard £306.44 repair cost to have Apple fix the issue, then it will give you back £160. To make a claim if you haven’t already, contact Apple. Remember, though, that this only covers Apple-authorized repairs and not unauthorized, third-party repairs.
iphone 6 Plus isight camera replacement programme
Is your iphone 6 Plus’s camera blurry? Back in August 2015, Apple launched a replacement programme for the isight camera.
Ever since the 6 Plus was first released back in September 2014, there have been a small percentage of users complaining about blurry photos. The issues weren’t present with iphone 6 users, which leads us to believe the fault is in fact with the optical image stabilization feature. The feature is said to utilize the A8 chip, gyroscope and the M8 motion coprocessor in the 6 Plus to stabilize
photos, measuring motion data to provide lens movement that compensates for shakiness.
Apple subsequently admitted that a small number of 6 Plus cameras were defective, causing them to constantly take blurry photos. It says on its isight Camera Replacement Program website: “Apple has determined that, in a small percentage of iphone 6 Plus devices, the isight camera has a component that may fail causing your photos to look blurry. The affected units fall into a limited serial number range and were sold primarily between September 2014 and January 2015.”
The company goes on to note that if your iphone 6 Plus is taking blurry photos and falls into the eligible serial number range, Apple will replace the camera free of charge.
To check if you are eligible head over to the isight Camera Replacement Program website (fave.co/2qwgbcx) and input your iphone’s serial number. You can access this by opening the Settings app and tapping General. You should see
your serial number – tap and hold it to copy it, then paste it into Apple’s Replacement Program website.
If you’re not eligible but still try to get your camera replaced, Apple will know. The firm will examine your 6 Plus at either an Apple Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider to verify the device’s eligibility for the programme before agreeing to repair it.
The replacement isight camera will be covered by an extended three-year warranty from the date of the original iphone sale, though, this doesn’t effect the standard iphone 6 Plus warranty coverage.
The most important thing to note: Apple has stated that if your iphone 6 Plus has damage
(like a cracked screen) that impairs the camera replacement, you’ll have to fix the issue beforehand.
Macbook repairs and recalls
2016-2017 13in Macbook Pro (non-touch Bar) Battery Replacement Programme
Apple has confirmed that some Macbook Pro laptops manufactured between October 2016 and October 2017 may have a battery-related issue.
The company states that in these units: “A component may fail causing the built-in battery to expand.” That sounds alarming, but Apple claims: “This is not a safety issue”.
Only non-touch Bar Macbooks manufactured between 2016 to 2017 are affected. You can check whether your laptop is covered by the programme at (fave.co/2hsw8cf) If you have already paid for a battery replacement you should
contact the company for a refund. You can do so via this link – fave.co/2qthkge. This programme will be available until 2022 – five years from when the Macbooks in question were manufactured.
If your laptop is sent away for battery replacement it may take three to five days. Apple advises you back up your data before taking your Macbook to be serviced.
The company also notes: “If your 13in Macbook Pro has any damage which impairs the replacement of the battery, that issue will need to be resolved prior to the battery replacement. In some cases, there may be a cost associated with the repair.”
2011 Macbook Pros with video issues (February 2015)
One of the longest-running Apple sagas has been the tale of the failing Macbook Pros.
We were hearing reports of this as early as
2013, with many owners of 2011 models with
AMD graphics suffering from system crashes and hardware problems that have been described as ‘critical’. After a long wait, in early 2015 Apple finally announced a repair programme.
On its support page (fave.co/2hufqhg), Apple reveals it has determined “that a small percentage of Macbook Pro systems may exhibit distorted video, no video or unexpected system restarts”.
The specific symptoms described by Apple include distorted or scrambled video on the computer screen, no video on the computer screen (or external display) even though the computer is on, and the computer restarts unexpectedly.
Do note, however, that after the repair programme had been running for a little over two years Apple announced it was reducing the range of models covered. The early 2011 and late 2011 Macbook Pros, in both 15- and 17in screen sizes, are no longer eligible; the programme now covers the mid-2012 and early 2013 15in Pros only.
You can check your laptop’s eligibility at the following link: fave.co/2hqalbj.
Mac Pro repairs and recalls
In February 2016 Apple announced a repair programme for certain models in its Mac Pro line,
in response to a repeatedly reported issue with failing video cards. The repair programme applies to late 2013 Mac Pros equipped with AMD Firepro D500 or D700 GPUS. If your Mac Pro is affected by the issue, you will have experienced any or all of the following symptoms: video problems (distorted picture or video refusing to play); your Mac shutting down or restarting spontaneously (or generally acting unreliably); freezing; failure to start up normally.
If you are affected by the problem and your Mac qualifies for the programme, you will be able to get it repaired for free, provided you do so by 30 May 2018, so you’ll need to get your skates on. It’s understood that Apple will simply replace the affected GPUS.
To see whether your Mac Pro qualifies for the repair programme, contact Apple Support at fave.co/2qy0u4k, or speak to an employee at an Apple Store. If you are affected, however, it’s believed that Apple will attempt to get in touch with you.
You will also be able to get your Mac Pro fixed by an Apple Authorized Service Provider, but check you are covered by the programme before commissioning any repair work.
Accessory repair and recalls Apple USB-C charge cables recall
If you bought a Macbook before June 2015, then the USB-C cable Apple provided for charging purposes might be faulty. You’ll know this because either your Macbook won’t charge when you use the cable to connect to the charger, or it will only charge intermittently.
Apple identified the issue in February 2016, but doesn’t list any potential danger to the user of the cable. If you are affected by this you should stop using the cable immediately because you might be damaging your Macbook.
Affected cables can be identified because they have the following text on them, without any serial number: “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China.”
Any USB-C cables with this text and that also include a serial number straight afterwards are safe to use and not affected by the recall. For details, go to fave.co/2qyxqtb.
Weirdly, some users report seeing no text at all on their Apple-provided USB-C cables. If the cable
meets the above criteria – it was made by Apple and supplied with a Macbook before June 2015 – then the best policy is to contact Apple for advice.
What to do if you’re affected
Apple will replace the cable should you take it to an Apple Store Genius bar, or present the cable to an Authorized service provider, although you’ll probably need to provide proof of purchase. Notably, it doesn’t appear to be possible to replace the cable by post. You’ll need to provide Apple with your serial number when you attempt to make the replacement – although it might just be easier just to take along your Macbook and let them find it for you. Additionally, if you purchased a replacement cable because of this fault, then Apple might give you a refund – just drop them a line.
Beats Pill XL Speaker recall
In June 2015 Apple announced an important recall of all models of the Beats Pill XL desktop speaker when it became evident the battery inside might overheat and even catch fire. This is literally a product recall because Apple/beats removed it from sale and upon receipt of the faulty speaker will refund £215 to anybody who purchased one – even if that wasn’t directly from Apple itself.
No time limit has been set on the recall, which raises an interesting prospect – should you stumble upon one in a second-hand shop or at a car boot sale then snap it up because it’s worth £215 once you send it off to Apple.
What to do if you’re affected
If you own a Beats Pill XL speaker, you should stop using it immediately and visit Apple’s website (fave.co/2qwmy9l) to fill in the form. The firm will send you a prepaid postage box so you can return the speaker, and within three weeks will either credit your Apple Store account or make an electronic payment, depending on which you choose.
Please note that Apple does not permit you to return the speaker to an Apple Store, or to the retailer where it was purchased. This is solely a postal return programme.
Apple offered free repairs to any iphone 5 that had a faulty power button
Type in your iphone’s serial number to see if it is eligible for a new battery
An iphone 6 Plus suffering from ‘Touch Disease’
Apple admitted that a small number of iphone 6 Plus cameras were defective
Apple has admitted that some of its non-touch Bar13in MacbookPros have batteryrelated issues